Photograph by Ryan Choi

NYUAD’S First Curatorial Practice Class Opens A/Part Exhibition

A/Part, an exhibition curated by NYUAD students, explores the often simultaneous feelings of belonging and isolation within a multicultural community.

Apr 23, 2017

April 18 saw the opening of the A/PART exhibition in The Cube, presenting the work of NYU Abu Dhabi’s first curatorial practice class taught by Professor Salwa Mikdadi. The class introduces students to both theory and practice of the curatorial process and critically examines the role of the curator and the art institution. One of the integral components of the class was making the A/PART exhibition— an activity that invited students to work together in teams to handle all tasks, from design and installation to writing wall texts. This is the first time the class is offered at NYUAD.
The exhibition aimed to showcase pieces by those who wouldn’t necessarily call themselves artists or be considered as artists by others. Faculty and students from the Art and Art History department were restricted from submitting artworks. A/PART, thus, becomes an platform for expression for those eight artists who may not consider themselves part of NYUAD’s artistic community. Bejoe Bhaskar, a NYUAD security officer, for example, contributed four paintings, each of which depicted a lady with her back turned, touching on themes of alienation and isolation.
The student curatorial team considered how each of the pieces would fit together to create a narrative within The Cube. For example, one of the central artworks displayed is of a political nature, titled Palestine, and is placed between two photographs of bridges. Another piece by Spencer Hogg, who is a relative of a faculty member, portrays typical British beach huts adorned with Islamic geometrical art. The piece was inspired by the ongoing refugee crisis and relations between the West and the Middle East.
A/PART explores the often simultaneous feelings of belonging and isolation within a community as multicultural and diverse as NYUAD. Existing within such a varied mix of races, nationalities, languages, sexualities, socio-cultural backgrounds and generations, NYUAD can represent a modern, multicultural utopia for many. But several aspects of this experience are often left suppressed or unspoken – ideas of “temporariness,” never feeling a concrete sense of home, forming and clinging to national/cultural cliques and frequent feelings of displacement and distance. The exhibition through a diverse set of works and media, explores the idea of diaspora blues — a persistent feeling of foreignness — despite making concerted efforts to form a united and global community.
A/PART runs until May 1 at The Cube in the NYUAD Arts Center.
Vamika Sinha is Deputy Features Editor. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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